Jewish World Review Dec. 28, 2004 / 16 Teves, 5765


Drive from dead PC can find new home in enclosure; creating a white list that only accepts people in one's Windows address book

By James Coates

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (KRT) I remember reading about a device into which you can plug a removed internal hard drive. Do you have any information and the names of the manufacturer/distributor and cost? Thanks.

S.J. Wartel@yahoo.com

A. You describe an ever-more-popular hardware product with applications far wider than just letting a computer owner plug a hard drive taken from one computer into a new computer, S.J.W.

A happy feature of the Windows XP/2000 and Macintosh OS X operating systems is so-called plug-and-play connections that work with standard FireWire IEEE 1394 ports or the much more common USB 2.0 cables.

Plug and play means that the hardware is recognized and operated by computers without needing to be loaded with special driver software for each device.

In addition to permitting users to do stuff like plug digital cameras and scanners into computers for instant recognition and use, this plug-and-play feature works with devices that essentially are empty boxes with power supplies and electronic gear that get recognized when plugged in to a computer.

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Usually called portable drive enclosures, these devices generally come with the data cables and power connectors used for the IDE drive interfaces built in to computer towers since Day One. So you can acquire new or used internal hard drives and connect them in the enclosure, and then use the USB or FireWire ports on the outside of a computer to operate them. This keeps screwdriver work at a joyful minimum for techies with 10 thumbs, like this writer.

In addition to working with hard drives, these enclosures can be used with devices like internal DVD-R/RW drives, CD-ROM drives, floppy drives and some exotic gadgets like scientific sensors that normally get connected to IDE cables.

Perhaps the single most useful thing about these gadgets is that they can be used to read a data-filled hard drive that has been removed from an old machine when a new one is acquired. And that means, of course, that they are a particular godsend for people whose computers break down.

The enclosure boxes cost in the sub-$100 range.

Portable drive enclosures have become one of the hottest hardware add-ons on the market, and you can get an idea of who makes them with a Google search or a trip to shopping sites like http://shopper.cnet.com or www.amazon.com. Use the search term "USB drive enclosure."

I can tell you that I routinely use an enclosure from ADS Technologies and have had good results using it for hard drives and DVD burners alike.

Q. I would like to know if there is a way within Outlook Express, or with some other software, to set up my e-mail rules so that only mail from those e-mail addresses in my address book is delivered to my inbox. And, more important, those messages from people not in my address book don't get through.

It seems this would be any easy program to develop, and I think it would be the answer to spam, etc.

Mark Spall @cox.net

A. Let me walk you through the steps needed in Microsoft Outlook Express 6, the most recent version, to do roughly what you want, Mr. S.

You are right on the money in concluding that one can avoid almost the entire spam problem simply by creating a so-called white list that only accepts people in one's Windows address book.

Click on Tools in the Outlook Express main display and select Message Rules. This brings up wizard prompts that walk one through creating rules for handling incoming mail and then implementing them.

The wizard amounts to filling in a form stating various conditions and then using two other forms below the first for ordering actions and defining each condition that will trigger the rule. In your case, the rule is to set aside all messages from people in your address book and ignore all others.

Start by putting a check mark in the first box in the rules wizard list, which specifies how to handle messages with people in the From line in each message.

Now look at the bottom box, and you will find the words "contains people" highlighted. Click on the highlight, and you get a box that will let you enter the names, one by one, of people who send messages. This tool also has an Address Book button that lets a user call up the address book that is part of Windows.

You can go through the address book and pick individuals or just select them all.

Now look at the box in the center of the three for the actions to be taken when messages from the selected people come in. Check the action "Move to Specified Folder." This brings up a display of folders, including a button for making a new folder.

You will want to create a folder with a distinctive name and then open it instead of using the conventional Outlook inbox each time you use the software. The rules in Outlook Express stop short of letting you move stuff from that address-book white list into the default inbox that always opens when the mail software is started.

Now that you know this drill, you can go back and do other rules, such as automatically deleting stuff from unapproved senders or sending that stuff to yet another special set-aside folder in case you later want to check out what's been coming in but not seen. Since the software executes rules in the order they are written, it is possible to set up a second rule that sends everything that arrives to the delete folder.

People with other versions of Outlook Express and with Microsoft Outlook will find the rules tools are very much like those described here.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of this column by clicking here.

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